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Title:An investigation into hunter preference and accuracy of various methods of harvest reporting on public lands in Illinois
Author(s):Conat, Ryan J.
Advisor(s):Miller, Craig A.; Stewart, William P.
Contributor(s):Benson, Thomas J.
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Harvest Reporting
Hunter Preference
Harvest Accuracy
Harvest Reporting Compliance
Public Land
Abstract:A multiple harvest reporting system is used for public land hunters in Illinois. The location, type of species, type of property hunted, and the type of weapon used determine what type of harvest reporting method is required. Currently, Illinois harvest reporting methods include: check-in stations, telephone check-in, online check-in, online windshield cards, and site-specific harvest reporting (i.e. clipboard harvest checks). The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has concerns with a harvest reporting system that uses multiple methods, and would like data regarding the current system, specifically for the online windshield card method. We used a mixed-mode approach involving a site-intercept survey during the 2015-2016 Illinois hunting season and a mail survey following the 2016-2017 Illinois hunting season. The purpose of the study was to gain information on the harvest reporting accuracy of the online windshield card system (objective 1), hunter preference of all reporting methods (objective 2), and overall hunter attitudes of the online windshield card system (objective 3). The first phase of this study utilized an intercept survey to record hunters’ daily harvest, which was compared to the harvest reported at the end-of-season to the online windshield card system (objective 1). We surveyed 14 total hunting days, resulting in 299 completed hunter surveys. Six days were spent at Clinton Lake resulting in 63 surveys, four days at Sangchris Lake producing 85 surveys, and four days at Mazonia-Braidwood contributing 151 surveys. The overall compliance of the online windshield card users (68.3%) from our sample was very similar to the statewide compliance percentages (65-70%). The analysis removed hunters that did not accurately recall the correct date or correct number species harvested during an intercept encounter, resulting in a final compliance percentage of 34%. Results showed that statewide compliance percentages with the online windshield card system are likely much lower than the initial 65-70% of hunters not found in the system. A chi-square analysis indicated the time gap between harvest and harvest reporting deadline (X² = 8.244, df = 2, p = .016) was significant, as the greater the time gap resulted in more accurate reporting accuracy. Total season harvest (X² = 16.844, df = 4, p = .002) was also a significant predictor of harvest reporting accuracy, as hunters who harvested 6-10 game in a hunting season were most accurate. Total days spent hunting during a season was not a significant predictor. The second phase of this study utilized a mail survey administered to 2,830 randomly sampled public land hunters following the 2016-17 hunting season (58% response rate). The questionnaire measured hunter types, harvest method experience, harvest method preference, and information regarding the online windshield card system (objectives 2 & 3). Telephone check (38.1%) was the most preferred method across the aggregate sample, while 25.4% preferred online reporting, 21.3% preferred check stations most, and 15.1% of hunters preferred the online windshield card system most. Telephone check harvest reporting was the most preferred method by all hunter types: duck, geese, dove, squirrel, turkey, and deer. Chi-square results suggest a significant difference between reporting method hunters experienced and reporting method preference, supporting the hypothesis. There were significant differences between duck and non-duck hunters, goose and non-goose hunters, turkey and non-turkey hunters, and deer and non-deer hunters. Significant differences were found to exist between hunter age (X² = 33.009, df = 3, p = .005) and years hunted (X² = 32.286, df = 3, p = .006) by hunter preference for reporting method. Hunters aged ≤ 20 and > 60 years old preferred telephone reporting (41%), whereas hunters aged 31-40 preferred online reporting. The differences in method preference by hunter age can be used to help IDNR managers implement regulations for future generations of hunters. Lastly, hunters responded to nine attitude statements regarding the online windshield card harvest reporting system. Principal component analysis uncovered a ‘reporting ease’ variable and a ‘harvest reporting component’ variable from responses to the attitude statements. Results of an ANOVA model indicated significant differences in hunter types for responses to the nine attitudinal statements regarding the online windshield card system. The ANOVA analysis found significant differences in duck, geese, squirrel, and deer hunter types versus respondents who did not hunt those species and their responses to the ‘reporting ease’ component. Duck and non-duck hunters (F = 15.55, df = 1,225, p < .001, Eta = .112), and goose and non-goose hunter types were significantly different (F = 8.926, df = 1,225, p <= .003, Eta = .085) in opposition of a multiple harvest reporting system, but the effect size was negligible. No other hunter types indicated significant differences in opinions of a multiple method harvest reporting system. Objective three helps IDNR wildlife managers identify specific issues with the online windshield card system, and which hunter types may be most affected by those issues. Simplifying a mixed method harvest reporting system involves substantial background information to make the best management decision when changing harvest regulations. Looking at variables contributing to the accuracy and preference of harvest reporting methods can help the IDNR better understand how to best service those needs, while still retaining the long-term statewide harvest data.
Issue Date:2017-12-11
Rights Information:© 2017 RYAN J. CONAT
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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